by Lisa McRitchie on 12/08/11 at 03:00 AM ET
This was a rare start for Devan Dubnyk. Of course this is not due to poor play overall by Dubnyk, but rather that Nikolai Khabibulin is playing better hockey than he ever has as an Oiler. Unfortunately, Dubnyk is drawing the worst games even though on paper they may have been the easiest. The Carolina Hurricanes are last in the east and had just played in Calgary the night before. That sounds like an Oilers win.
The Oilers had three days off to work on special teams, rest, relax, have team meetings; basically everything they would need to do. There was no travel and overall the time off shouldn’t have been very stressful. Why the team looked so tired, so exhausted I just can’t explain.
The first period had two disputed goals, both under review for possible kicking motions, and neither one went the Hurricanes way. That was where lady luck left the Oilers though, after that it was all Hurricanes.
The disputed Oiler goal was at first the first goal of the year for Magnus Paajarvi, then credited as Eric Belanger’s first of the season and first as an Oiler. In the end no one seems completely sure, but during intermission interview with TSN, Paajarvi said “I’ll take it.” When asked specifically if he thought he was the one to score it, Paajarvi answered “I think so, yeah.” Good for you Paajarvi, it’s all about confidence. When you’re not sure, make a decision and stand behind it, that’s the trick to nearly every industry.
The best part of Paajarvi’s TSN interview was his final words, “Hockey’s not fair some times, but overall, so and so.” Yes my friend, that is pretty much how I would describe this game.
Ben Eager did score his first goal of the year and first goal as an Oiler as well, and of course Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the dying half of the final period but the Oilers just weren’t coordinated enough to take the win.
The more games I see Ryan Whitney play, the more I see a defenceman who literally looks as though he has lost his step. When Whitney came to the Oilers, he had to have foot surgery on one foot. Then it was the other. Still, Whitney was a needed and valued player for the Oilers. This most recent injury however, the one that kept Whitney out of the line-up for 10 months (counting the off-season of course)seems to have changed Whitney’s game for the worst. The Oilers don’t want to send Colten Teubert down just yet because they would rather not have just six defencemen on hand. I can’t help but wonder if it is actually because Whitney only hanging in there, and may have to take a game off before too long. Of course I hope I’m wrong and that Whitney is fine.
Andy Sutton is a big man, who will from time to time collide with other players on the open ice. Even if Sutton doesn’t hit the player, for example when Jeff Skinner skated into Sutton in the neutral zone, there will be controversy over whether or not it is suspension worthy let alone worth a penalty call. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector had it right when he tweeted “Getting a little tired of sportscasters saying “No call!” after every decent NHL collision. Culture shifting away from physical hockey. Sad.”
The Hurricanes definitely didn’t look as though they are struggling to score in this game against the Oilers, and after scoring 6 goals last night and nearly beating the Calgary Flames, I’m kind of surprised to see where the Hurricanes are in the standings. It definitely comes back to the play of the Oilers. I can’t even say that this could be left over emotions from the Stanley Cup finals of 2006, but the only remaining Oilers from those days were Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Fans likely hold a bigger grudge than the team overall.
Talking to the Team 1260’s Jason Gregor about the Oilers’ suffering after days off, we had a look at how the Oilers fare after two or more days off. It seems to me as though the days off always hurt the Oilers. Gregor quickly pointed out that the team is 5-2-1 this year (including this loss), so days off have helped the team. Last year however, the team was worse. With two or more days off between games, the Oilers went 2-15-2 last season. Combined, the team is 7-17-3, and so maybe it isn’t just my imagination saying that several days off doesn’t help the Oilers. Maybe.
Coach Tom Renney called this the most disappointing loss all season. “We’ve got expectations inside of being a real good team,” Renney said assuredly. “This one really hurts, it hurts everybody. The players are really disappointed in themselves”
Thankfully, the Oilers only have one day off before they host the Colorado Avalanche. I can’t even try to make a prediction for that game. I think this is a form of shock.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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